Wednesday, November 14

Dunlop Masters Pro rider upgrades

2019 Rider grading changes
Any rider not mentioned in the grading changes will retain the grade that they raced with in 2018.
In addition to the above, the championship organizers reserve the right to add new entrants to the series to whichever class they deem appropriate and to upgrade additional riders once the season commences if necessary.
Any rider switching from Superbike to Supersport or vice versa will retain their grading as per the below list except in exceptional circumstances. In a case where a rider due for upgrade in Supersport swaps to Superbike they may be given a one season exemption from upgrade. All grading decisions shown here apply to Masters races only and can be appealed before the start of the 2019 season.

Chris Campbell
Michael Prendergast
Gary O’Brien
Jamie O’Keefe
Keelim Ryan

Kevin Baker
Eoin Collins
Wayne Sheehan

Images courtesy Mondello Park and Johnny Sweeney

Sunday, November 11

'Young Motorcycle Racer of the Year' Award goes to Caolán Irwin

Following a long and tense wait for the 2018 nominees, since the final shoot-out on October 24th, Caolán Irwin was announced as the recipient of the 2018 'Young Racer of the Year' title at the Dunlop Masters Superbike Championship awards ceremony at the Westgrove Hotel in Clane, County Kildare on Saturday night, November 10th. Irwin, from Donegal, follows in the footsteps of previous winners, Jason Lynn and Robert English as he picks up a prize package of support worth more than €10,000, to assist him in furthering his Motorcycle Racing career.

The biggest award in Irish Motorcycle Racing is in its third season and once again benefits from backing from the late Martin Birrane, who passed away in June of this year, Pat Crowley of Dawn International and Peter McMahon of European Industrial Chillers Ltd.. During 2018 the award assisted Jason Lynn to progress his career into the Thundersport GB Championship, culminating in a debut British Supersport Championship appearance at the final round in Brands Hatch in October.

Caolán Irwin began 2018 with the aim of racing in the British Superbike supporting Superstock 600 championship, alongside a campaign in the Masters Supersport Championship, but date clashes saw him compete at the Masters on just two occasions. His first appearance, in April, produced three scintillating performances and a hat-trick of second place finishes, despite riding a Superstock machine against the more powerful Supersport bikes. His speed and the quality of his riding secured the 'Young Racer of the Year' nomination for April and a place in the October shoot-out. A second visit to Mondello Park in October produced another runner-up spot before the twenty year old finally took his maiden Supersport win in the second race of the weekend.

With the seven Masters events completed and seven riders nominated, the decision on who would be crowned the 2018 Young Racer of the Year was made at a one day shoot out, which took place at Mondello Park in late October. During the shoot-out the riders were put through their paces, both on and off the track, with each nominee being assessed in a number of areas. The on-track assessment made up half of the marks awarded, with the other half being split across the two off track categories. Experienced racers Jeremy McWilliams and Jim Halligan assessed the riders ability with their bike, both in the garage and on the track, quizzing them in the garage before observing them from a number of locations around the circuit. Motorcycling journalist and track instructor Paul Browne, assessed each riders presentation of their past and future careers, while communications consultant Gerry Dawson assessed the nominees on their media skills.

When the points from all categories were totaled Irwin came out on top, ahead of what judges described as the closest and best prepared field of nominees so far, having impressed the judges across all categories and scored highest in the track skills and career portions of the assessment. Following the shoot out, the participants had to wait until Saturday night's awards ceremony to hear the result, which was announced as the final award of the night.

Speaking after the announcement Caolán Irwin said, “I cant believe I've won this award. This will make such a difference to our plans for next year as we now have the backing to commit to returning to the BSB paddock. Finding funding for Motorcycle racing in Donegal is extremely difficult but this award will hopefully help us to secure the remaining funds we need to complete a full season again next year. I have so many people to thank, not least of all my family who have funded most of this years campaign and allowed me to be in a position to win this award. I have to thank the judges and Mondello Park for organising this fantastic competition and I'm looking forward to representing the sponsors to the best of my ability during 2019.”

Jim Halligan, representing the competition judges, also had this to say about Caolán and the standard of the competition in general. “The standard was the highest we have seen so far in the competition and we believe our choice of winner should get to the very top, as will many of the nominees. But unfortunately there can only be one winner.

Mondello Park, the competitions supporters and the winner Caolán Irwin will agree a plan for the next stage of his career over the coming weeks and are all looking forward to working together to help Caolán continue his progress in the British Superstock championship.

For more information see

Words - Motorsport promotions

Images - Mondello Park and Andy Quinn

Monday, November 5

IMC Snowflake - Round 1

Junior Gearbox the Duel in Kirkistown’s Crown

Though the Championship may be called The IMC Snowflake Showdown, winter felt a world away as the sun shone on a dry and bright Kirkistown Motor Racing Circuit for Round 1 of the Inaugural IMC Winter Championship. Hopes were high for a fantastic day of competition and we were not left disappointed. The addition of new members and a renewed hunger for success made for a spectacle of nail biting races in every class from the first change of lights to the final drop of the chequered flag.

With the weather very much on side and the extra hour kip due to the official end of BST (British Summer Time) 2018, the BMW Autoparts Junior Gearbox competitors were fast of the mark and provided some of the most thrilling racing of the event. The youth demonstrated yet again their developing race craft and soaring confidence in 3 highly competitive races with battles being fought throughout the field of future stars. In the BMW Autoparts Junior Gearbox 140cc Class it was Magherafelts Jack Ferris and Cookstowns Matt ‘Missile’ McCord who were the front runners in each of the 3 Races. As the chequered flag dropped in Race 1 it was Ferris who was first home will The Missile just 0.8 secs behind. The Duel continued in Race 2 and Race 3 with Ferris again crossing the line first but with an even slighter margin of just 0.4 secs. McCord never losing hope of success demonstrated great determination and even greater sportsmanship in being the first to congratulate his fellow competitors. Ruben Sherman-Boyd, on board his MiniGP 50cc Conti finished 3rd. The excitement brought to spectators by the on track duel was not restricted to the 140cc Class – as the BMW Autoparts Junior Gearbox 125cc Class produced some of its own. Ballymoneys Isaac Mark and Newcomer Robert Ronan fought tooth and nail in Race 3 with passes any seasoned racer would be proud of being performed by both boys, drawing breath from those fortunate enough to witness and coming down to the wire with Ronan just pipping  Mark to 3rd by 0.3 secs. Ronan secured 3rd in Race 1 and a well deserved 2nd in Race 2 securing his 1st Podium of the season and 3rd Overall. Another Newcomer, Kai McClintock, showed his promise securing 2nd Overall. Rhys Coates claimed 3 race wins securing his spot at the top of the Championship Table. One competitor who stood out on the day was Bailey ‘Bomber’ Dobson, the recipient of the GC M&E Star of the Inaugural Championship Award. Bomber set lap times that would see him with the front runners and we are certain it won’t be long before he bags himself a place on the podium. Jay Coates, on board his Ernie Coates Motorcycles 110cc Machine, brought up the rear and what he lacks in cc he surely makes up for in grit – another youngster that keeps chipping away!

It seems most apt that Misano Moto has become the Title Sponsor of the MiniGP Class, as it appears that it is fast becoming Ireland’s version of ‘The Kayo Cup’. Exciting to see the grids grow with the 150cc machines and they surely look like a fun ride. It was class Newcomer Rossi Dobson who made it look effortless as he secured top marks in all 3 races. IMC Youth Ambassador Jonny Campbell, on board the Misano Moto machine, and riding the wheels of it, secured an impressive 2nd in Race 1 having started from the back of the grid. Campbell made his way through the pack and chased down Dobson but just didn’t have enough in the tank to take the win. Campbell would have to settle for 3rd behind Ajay Carey, in Race 2 and 3. Rhys Coates made an impressive entrance to the class bagging himself 4th Overall following consecutive 4th place finishes in the 3 races. Ritchie Butler finished 5th and earned himself the ‘Best Turned Out Outfit’ kindly Sponsored by Detail NI. David Sherman was missing from the grid in Race 3 following a slip in the VETS Class and finished 6th Overall.

The Temple Tree Services Junior Pro Class saw Buster Sherman-Boyd take the overall win from older brother Ruben following a mechanical failure in race 3.

The AJM Car Sales Senior Open Class proved to be as exciting as had been anticipated. With a steadily growing grid of seasoned competitors including Kenny Robinson, British Talent Cup Competitor Jonny Campbell and IMC Inaugural Open Championship victor Jordan McCord the pace was fast and furious from start to finish. Jonny Campbell put in 3 impressive stints and set the fastest lap of the day on board the Bertie Boyd – Village Carpets Racing KTM 85cc securing the win in both Race 1 and Race 3, followed closely by Robinson and McCord. Race 2 would see Robinson and Campbell exchange positions with Robinson taking the flag, Campbell in 2nd and McCord again taking the remaining podium position. Campbell took the overall but Kenny impressed with a major step up in performance earning himself The GC M&E ‘Star of the Round’ award which entitles him to a free entry to Round 2. Another young man stepping up into the Open Class and making his presence known was Magherafelts Gary Scott (14yrs) finishing 6th Overall on board his CRF150. 

Even with a reduced grid, the SB Pitbikes Stock VETS Class brought its own excitement with each of the competitors either separating from the track, their machine, or both! Malcolm Robinson was a man on a mission taking the chequered flag in all 3 races. Whilst David Sherman, on board his FB Motors Stock 140cc machine, took 2nd ahead on Graham Ronan in Race 1 he would have to settle for 3rd in the remaining races.

The Ernie Coates Motorcycles Sponsored Stock 140cc Class welcomed an entry from BSB Rider Aaron Wright who came out on top following a win on both Race 1 and 2 and a 3rd in Race 3. Kenny Robinson again demonstrated his wealth of experience. Despite a racing incident in Race 1 Kenny took the 2nd spot in Race 2, setting the fastest lap of the day in the Stock Class and improved yet again in Race 3 to take the race win and 2nd Overall. Mikolaj Vaz showed promise with 2 2nd place finishes but a DNF in Race 2 resulted in a slide down the points table and an overtake by Class Newcomer Christopher Stirling who took the runner up spot.

The Discount Beds Stock 140cc Group 2 Class grid was made up of both familiar and new faces, including Skerries competitors Ross Sheridan, Eoin McMahon and Thomas Hogan. It seemed that during practice Ross’s day would be cut short following mechanical failure of his recently purchased machine. Ross was kindly offered the loan of a machine and his long journey was not in vain as he totted up enough points to secure himself a respectable 4th Overall. Tom Nicholl took the class by storm taking 3 relatively easy wins. Michael Thompson found himself amongst the front runners, one of them being Pole Setter Samuel McFarland. Spectators witnessed one of the closest finishes of the day during Race 2 as Thompson and McFarland battled race long for second spot, Thompson crossing the line first by the narrowest of margins. Race 2’s result would be echoed in the Overall Results with Thompson ahead of McFarland on points.

The show of support to both the Championship and competitors from Photographers was humbling and at one stage it looked as if we had enough on site to introduce a Brand New Class to the Winter Series – one for future consideration perhaps?

The IMC are privileged to have had The Ulster Superbike Championship attend Round 1 and look forward to having them continue their support throughout the Championship.

Round 2 of The IMC Snowflake Showdown takes place this weekend, Saturday 3rd November, at Bishopscourt Racing Circuit. Practice begins at 10.00am with racing from approx 12.00pm.

Krystle Black PR

Photo Credit:
Baylon McCaughey

Sunday, November 4

Motocraft at Monteblanco - Track experience with a difference

Riding fast doesn’t come with having a powerful machine and enthusiasm. It helps but, doesn’t guarantee it. Being quick is a skill and like most talents, if you’re not born with it, you’re going to need instruction to use it properly. Last month I spent a weekend in Spain with the Motocraft team at Monteblanco race track. It’s a circuit used for F1 testing so, it’s definitely qualified itself as a dynamic enough location for bikes too. Don’t be confused though, this isn’t a trackday away from home, it’s a 3 day learning experience with tuition. You will be allocated an instructor for the weekend who will orientate you to the circuit first (braking points, turn in points, apexes etc) and then using the onboard footage, will debrief you after every session. The tuition is aimed at track riding but, many of the techniques also apply to road riding and will make you a more confident and competent road user.

Suspension setup included

Power is nothing without control. Spending money to get 20hp more than the next guy isn’t worth the expense if you’re bike is still wallowing 10m after the apex when everyone else is back on the gas. If you’ve never had your suspension setup, you’re doing yourself and your bike a disservice. The level of adjustment on today’s bikes is enough to transform your basic setup to a completely different machine. It’s also an important service for identifying faults on your bike. For example, 10 year old fork oil is past its useable date and the spring\preload on your rear shock absorber wasn’t designed for your size and weight. Kieran Ryan is on tap all weekend to assist with your bike.

The Monteblanco circuit

Set in the idyllic surroundings of Andalucía, the Monteblanco facility is less than an hour from Seville where we were based. Each garage is organised brilliantly with plenty of power points for tyre warmers, adequate space for working on your bike, a comfortable restaurant and excellent security at night. The hugely grippy track itself has everything from high speed straights, tight hairpins, elevation changing turns and plenty of run off when your ambition overcomes your ability. The surface is ideal for road and track tyres and the level of adhesion is unbeatable. Tracktime is as good as it gets with pit lane opening at 9am and carrying on until almost 6pm every evening, so your fitness will be tested.

The package includes shipping your bike from Dublin on purpose built crates on which you can also transport your helmet, leathers and gear so all you need on the plane is weekend clothing. Your bike will be delivered directly to the track and repackaged for return to Dublin for collection. Accommodation is also included in the price and all of the services such as suspension advice, tuition and video footage are also included.

The next event is February 22-24th 2019, ideal for dusting of the winter cobwebs and racers giving bikes a shakedown in preparation the 2019 race season. For more information, check out or contact Paul direct on

Words and images - (c) Andy Quinn

Saturday, November 3

2018 returns career highs for impressive Irwin brothers

Irwin Racing finished off their debut season in the British Superbike Championship paddock with a strong weekend at the Brands Hatch finale over the weekend of October 12th to 14th. Moto3 Production competitor Rhys Irwin, took his best result of the year, along with his first ever podium, while in Superstock 600, older brother Caolán had his most competitive weekend of the season qualifying on the second row of the grid and then racing to sixth place.

The weekend did not start as well as it ended for the Donegal based team, as an engine issue for Rhys in Moto3 qualifying left him unable to take his place on the grid for Saturday's opening race. A long road trip by Rhys's father Ivan, to collect a replacement engine, enabled the teenager to make the grid for Sunday's race, where he would have to start from thirty second and last on the grid, nineteenth of the Production class bikes.

Away from the lights Rhys immediately set about climbing the order and an outstanding first lap saw him up to nineteenth overall and seventh in his class. Progress continued on each lap and just after half distance the Motorcycling Ireland backed Honda was into the top ten and lying third of the production bikes. By the flag the Kilmacrennan teenager had moved up one more place to ninth as he achieved his first ever podium in Moto3 and secured seventh in the final championship standings.

Caolán Irwin's weekend went much more to plan as second in the opening practice session was backed up a strong performance in qualifying. Following a tight battle the Oasis Bar and Clean Rubber backed rider produced his best qualifying of the season to line up sixth, less than two tenths off a front row start. A good getaway at the start of the race left Caolán running with the lead group, in seventh place, and by lap three he had regained sixth. Further progress was made as he then ran in fifth place from half distance until the final lap where he was just pipped for the place on the run to the flag.

Caolán's strong end to the season, where he picked up his best finish since round five, meant that he never finished a race outside of the top ten on his way to ninth overall in the series. His impressive performances, including a first ever podium, at Snetterton in June, left him as the top rookie in the Superstock 600 class.

Speaking after the final weekend of his Superstock 600 season Caolán said. “I'm really happy with sixth place to end my first season in BSB, what a year. At round one I qualified nineteenth, 3.8 seconds off third, this weekend I qualified sixth 0.2 seconds off third, which shows how much progress I and the team have made. This final result means that every time I've finished I've been inside the top ten, I’ve secured ninth in the championship, finished as top rookie, and had a podium at Snetterton earlier in the year, which is more than I dreamed off at the start of the season. Massive thanks to everyone who made this year possible.”

Rhys Irwin was also delighted with his final race of the year as he finished his BSB season with a podium. “After my bike blowing up on the first lap of qualifying, and having to start from 32nd on the grid, I didn’t expect that. Third position and my first BSB podium with second fastest lap of the race is a great way to end this part of my season. A massive thank you has to go out to Bradley Thurston and Stephen Knight for the loan of the engine and my team for sticking it in. I can't thank everyone who has helped get me here enough, Motorcycling Ireland, Mum and Dad, Eamonn Medlar, Wes, Galfee, Wogey, Arnie, Katy and Brad and everyone else who has helped out.

Following a successful first season in BSB, Irwin Racing may be finished for 2018, but both riders still have one more event to complete. Caolán's thoughts are already on preparation for the final of the Masters Young Racer of the Year at Mondello Park on October 24th, while Rhys is looking forward to his final British Talent Cup race of the season at the MotoGP finale in Valencia, Spain, on November 17th & 18th.

For more information on Caolán Irwin see

Saturday, October 27

2019 Kells Road Races GSXR1000R competition launch

Kells Road Races today officially launched their fundraising campaign in a bid to host the 2019 Road Race on the Crossakiel circuit.

The 2018 committee gathered at CC’s Unlimited Kells with a group of riders and racers alike to promote the effort which currently involves raffling a brand new Suzuki GSXR1000R. With ticket numbers being limited to 500 to maximize the chances of entrants, the Club has put in place online services so that potential punters can purchase tickets easily. Tickets are prices at €100 each but, syndicates are welcomed to spread the ticket cost.

On hand to reveal the new bike in Kells this morning, were CCs owners Christy, John and family whose well stocked shop provided some welcome snacks and warm drinks for those that traveled. Also involved in the promotion, was popular Monaghan Road Racer Joe Loughlin who seemed at home on the 1000cc Superbike.

The raffle will go some way in helping the club return to the 2019 National Road Racing calendar but, will not fund the entire running of the meeting. It’s hoped that Road Racing fans, both in Ireland and abroad will fully support this effort to ensure the success of the event and the continuity of the sport within Ireland.

To sign up for the raffle you can use the email address or contact the committee via their Facebook page, Kells Road Races for more information.

Words and images - Andy Quinn

Tuesday, October 23

Young Racer of the Year 2018 goes up for grabs

Many bikes have already been stripped to see what’s needed for the 2019 season but, for 7 riders, there’s still a huge competition to win, the 2018 Young Racer of the Year.

Beginning tomorrow at Mondello Park, the 7 racers will be put through their paces at the Kildare circuit before being brought in front of the adjudicating panel for an interview and also to present their case on why they deserve the award.

How riders deal with the media has never been more important due to level of social correspondence currently online and in print. How a racer engages with a free plug from a photographer or responds to a negative Facebook comment can be what draws a sponsor or indeed make one turn his back. Competitors need to be aware of the influence of social media and nothing is ever deleted from the internet.

Here are the contenders

Kevin Baker.

22yr old Miltown Malbay rider Kevin competes in the Dunlop Masters championship after coming up from the Production Twins class. Kevin came 2nd in this year’s Cup Championship.

Eoin Collins.

Another Co Clare native, Eoin finished just behind Baker in 3rd in the Supersport Cup championship. Eoin has also competed in the UK Thundersport series.

Aaron Wright

This year Aaron has taken the plunge and entered the R6 to the ultra competitive British Superbikes Pirelli National 600 Superstock paddock amassing points in his very first season.

Caolán Irwin

It’s been a rewarding year for Donegal’s Caolán Irwin since he picked up his 2018 R6 and entered the Pirelli National 600 Superstock championship. Along the way he has stood on the podium as well as picking up his first Dunlop Masters Supersport wins when not in the UK.

Jamie Lyons

Competing in the Dunlop Masters Junior Cup series on his Kawasaki Jamie Lyons had an unforgettable season winning every race he entered. When the championship had ended, Lyons had banked 500 points from his 20 races.

Nathan McGauran

Nathan McGauran finished this year 2nd place in his category. Building on his experience from the Young Guns series, next season looks very promising for McGauran in whatever competition he embarks on.

Michael Owens

October’s nominee Michael Owens began the year in the Junior Cup before landing a seat on a Supersport Yamaha R6 towards the end of the season. He justified the gamble with some excellent results including a Supersport Cup podium.

 Words - Andy Quinn

Images courtesy of Mondello Park, Johnny Sweeney and Andy Quinn


Sunday, October 21

Cooper victorious on Sunflower debut\Glenn Irwin donates winnings to William Dunlop family

Buildbase Suzuki rider Richard Cooper yesterday became the 2018 Sunflower trophy winner on his first visit to the event. Cooper led for much of the race but an excursion to the grass midway through saw Tyco’s Michael Laverty take the imitative from Danny Buchan. Cooper rejoined and hunted the pair down before retaking the lead despite the best of efforts of Buchan on the last lap. Following a drag race out of the last hairpin, Cooper won by a slim 0.01 of a second from the Kawasaki of Buchan with Michael Laverty back in 3rd.

Glenn Irwin’s Sunflower winning ways continued as he won the “Junior Sunflower Trophy” after a terrific battle with Jeremy McWilliams. Irwin lead from the start but, the experienced ex-GP racer McWilliams picked his moment and took the lead after 4 laps. Irwin began his fight back immediately and made his move with 3 laps to go. Irwin on the Burrows Engineering Supertwin never looked back and never gave an inch in the run to the line, not giving McWilliams on the Ryan Farquhar KMR Kawasaki any gap to exploit. Glenn Irwin went 1 better though, by donating his prize money to the family of the late William Dunlop, a feat matched by his sponsors amounting to £4000 in total. 3rd place went to British Junior Supersport champion Eunan McGlinchey who could only look on in the hope that a mistake was made but, the opportunity never materialised. However, McGlinchey did leave the circuit with a new Supertwin lap record of an incredible 1.10.2.

Supersport race wins went to Robert Kennedy in race 1 and 2 with impressive podium places going to Richard Kerr, Aaron Clifford and Jason Lynn. In the USBK championship, Gerard Kinhgan claimed the title with his successful run of results.

In the pre-injection races, Johnny Aiken won race 1 from Johnny Irwin and Jonathan Gregory. While in Race 2 Kevin McGrath took 2nd place.

Attendance in sunny warm weather was at full capacity as many came to witness the end of the 2018 Short Circuit season at the Bishopscourt track and spectators were treated to a full programme of exciting racing.

Full results available on Speedhive

Words and images – Andy Quinn

Friday, October 19

Scene set for Star Studded Sunflower

The scene is set for the 41st Sunflower Trophy race meeting at the County Down Bishopscourt circuit, which takes place Friday and Saturday 19th & 20th October.

Six times a winner of this prestigious end of season feature race, TYCO BMWs Michael Laverty will be aiming to win the Trophy for the 7th time. The 37-year-old spearheads the Moneymore team’s bid for victory at Ireland’s premier short circuit meeting near Downpatrick, although fellow British Superbike rider Christian Iddon is set to miss out. The Toome rider will face stiff opposition from twice winner Danny Buchan, who switches from his normal FS3 Kawasaki to a MSS Kawasaki, and newcomer Buildbases Suzuki rider, Richard Cooper.  Nottingham rider, Cooper is on a roll at the moment. 2wo weeks ago, he was the winner of the end of season meeting at Darley Moor, he followed this up with a dominating win at the final round of a wet BSB meeting at Brands Hatch, in what he described as his final race in the BSB series.

Top road racer, Bradford’s Dean Harrison, on board the Silicone Kawasaki is also making his Bishopscourt debut.  A winner at the Isle of Man TT and Classic TT, Harrison has been competing on the BSB scene at the start and end of the season, in order to keep at the sharp end for his road race preparation. Other notable visiting riders include Paul McClung and Tom Fisher.

Conspicuously missing from the race scene for the past few months is Lisburn rider Carl Philips, a podium finisher at this event last year, Philips has been handed a lifeline for this event by Roofing contractor, Jason McGaw, which will see Philips ride an ex Ryan Farquhar KMR Superbike.
Inaugural USBK Superbike Champion, Randalstown rider Gerard Kinghan has the ability to mix with the best, albeit, his machine may not have the punch required to match the factory bikes.  Ali Kirk, who has won the last three USBK Superbike races also can run up front.

The Supertwin race boasts a top-quality entry, and for this year, the second race will be known as the “Junior Sunflower Trophy”. Along with our own USBK Champion Gary McCoy, Glenn Irwin will be on board John Burrows Kawasaki. Jeremey McWilliams also returns on the KMR Kawasaki. Newly crowned British Champion Eunan McGlinchey will be on board the McAdoo Racing Kawasaki. Robert Kennedy will bring the beautiful sounding Paton, thanks to Dave Cloverdale and Ian Lougher of ILR, and Scotlands Paul McClung, a double winner in this class here two years ago, on his debut. Irwin also announced that any prize money he wins, he will donate to Janine, partner to the late William Dunlop.

Darryl Tweed will ride the Trision McMullan Joinery Suzuki.

Jason Lynn heads the 600-entry list, along with Mark Conlin and Christain Elkin. Making their first appearances on home soil this year will be, Aaron Clifford, Robert Kennedy and Richard Kerr, each of whom have been contesting the British Championships this season. Newcomers Milo Ward, Ben Luxton and Dominic Herbertson are also entered.

McWilliams makes his Moto 3 debut when he lines up alongside Irish road and short circuit Champion Paul Robinson, who will be looking to go out with a win, as the Ballymoney rider is retiring after this event. Gary Dunlop makes a race short circuit appearance along with Connall Courtney and Melissa Kennedy. On board 125 machines The Cairns Twins will be in action, along with Andrew Smyth, but watch out for newcomer to this class, 13-year-old Jamie Lyons, and from Sweden we have Anders Larrson making his Bishopscourt debut.

The sidecars have always played a major part of the Sunflower event, and this year there is quite a lot of visiting drivers, including Simon Robinson, Michael Kirkup, Sam Christie and Gordon Shand but to name a few, add in our own drivers and passengers, The Lynch brothers, Dylan and Derek, Terry O Reilly, Mark Codd, Peter O Neil, Tommy Fitzsimmons, Fergus Woodlock, and Hillsborough Club Member, Seamus “Scooby” Killough, and we have the ingredients for an exciting sidecar encounter.

Practice starts this morning at 9.15am, with a five-race programme scheduled for after lunchtime including the first clash of the Giants in the opening Superbike race. The main race bill, including the prestigious Sunflower race, will be held tomorrow (Saturday.)

Admission is £15 on Friday and £20 on Saturday. A weekend pass costs £25. Children under 15 free.

Hillsborough MCC PRO
Baylon McCaughey

Images Glynne Lewis, James McCann, Andy Quinn